THE Echo is today offering community groups a £250,000 Lottery cash bonanza.
We are joining forces with the Big Lottery Fund to award dozens of grants to community and not-for-profit organisations, parish and town councils, health bodies and schools across our circulation area.
From today, we will be inviting groups to bid for grants of between £10,000 and £30,000, with Echo readers voting on a short-list of the best ideas.
Echo editor John Szymanski said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for good causes to really reap the benefits from applying for this cash.
“Times are economically tough, so we hope that this money will go a long way and make a massive difference to communities ”
Since 1995, more than 1,000 Sunderland projects have received over £38million in grants from the Big Lottery Fund and its predecessors.
The Youth Almighty Project, in Silksworth, was handed funds to set up healthy living clubs and music projects, as well as a youth café.
“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the help and support we’ve been given by the Lottery,” said chairman Phil Tye.
“They provided the funding to help us launch the group and have kept supporting us, allowing us to grow.
“Five years on, we’ve gone from strength to strength.
The Foundation of Light, Sunderland AFC’s official charity, was one of only two projects in the region to receive an Improving Futures grant, allowing it to help dozens of families from disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Director Lesley Spuhler said: “Our Lottery-funded project will help families across a wide area, and Lottery players in Sunderland should be proud that every pound they spend goes to work like our Neighbourhood Alliance project.”
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Education Minister, is also backing the drive.
“This is an exciting opportunity for local groups to develop new and imaginative ideas to improve our area and the quality of life of Washington and Sunderland residents,” she said.
“I would encourage any kind of charity or community group to throw their hat in the ring for this fund, and I’m looking forward to seeing the successful bids and the good work that will come out of this process.”
Whether groups are looking to run fitness classes or tea dances, set up after-school clubs or heritage groups, or transform derelict sites into community gardens, our campaign will make a huge difference.
Dharmendra Kanani, the Big Lottery Fund’s England director, said Echo readers will play a key role in deciding which projects receive the cash.
“Through this partnership with Sunderland Echo, the Big Lottery Fund is making £250,000 available to support the spirit, imagination and aspirations of local people and communities to do good in their neighbourhoods – to support people-powered change,” he said. “We know that it takes more than money to make big change happen in communities. It’s the people, ideas and enthusiasm behind it that are important, and give us all a sense of hope and optimism, particularly in difficult times.
“Often funding like this simply serves as the tipping point to bring people and communities together to really make a difference.
“What’s great about this campaign is that Echo readers will have the power to vote to decide which projects best meet local needs and receive vital funding to put their plans into action.”
Application forms need to be submitted by July 21.
From September 9, a shortlist of the best ideas, chosen by a judging panel, will be revealed in the Echo.
Over two weeks, readers will have the chance to vote for the projects they would like to see get the cash.
Those with the highest number of votes will be awarded the funding until all £250,000 of the Big Lottery Fund money has been spent.
The winners will be announced on September 30.
Only community groups, not for profit groups, parish or town councils, health bodies or schools can apply for grants.
However, groups do not have to be a registered charity to apply, although they must have a bank account that requires at least two people to sign each cheque or withdrawal and be in a position to use the grant within one year.
To download your application form visit www.communityfoundation.org.uk/connect/funds/do-a-lotto-good.
Paper copies are available on request from Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, Cale Cross, 156 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6SU or by email from email@example.com. For further information, please contact Elaine Holdsworth at the Community Foundation on 0191 222 0945.